Hanukkah is an 8-day Jewish festival to commemorate the reclamation by the Maccabees of their holy temple in Jerusalem. The word Hanukkah, pronounced "HAH-nu-kah" and sometimes spelled Chanukah or Chanukkah, means "dedication" in Hebrew. It is often nicknamed the Festival of Lights in reference to the menorah.Continue Reading
The menorah is a special candelabra symbolic of the oil that burned in the reclaimed temple for 8 days, despite there only being enough for one. This miracle is commemorated by the sequential lighting of each of the eight branches of the menorah from a central "helper candle" called the Shamash. It is traditional to eat fried foods such as potato pancakes, or "latkes," and jelly doughnuts, or "sufganiyot," during Hanukkah, and their method of preparation in oil also pays homage to the miraculous sacred oil of the Maccabees.
Hanukkah is all about family, and it is a particularly enjoyable festival for children. It is traditional for them to receive a small amount of money, known as "gelt" in Yiddish, on each of the festival's 8 days. Children also enjoy playing with the dreidel during Hanukkah. This is a kind of spinning top with four sides, each inscribed with one of the Hebrew letters "nun," "gimel," "hei" and "shin." Players compete with the dreidel to win candy.Learn more about Holidays & Celebrations